A set of new guiding principles for the operation of E-commerce platforms have been laid out by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to protect e-commerce consumers as well as enhance consumer confidence.
The five guiding principles were disclosed to reporters at a press briefing after a meeting CPC had with representatives of some e-commerce platforms as well as retail outlets on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting was held in commemoration of the World Consumer Rights Day (the 15th of March, 2018) themed “Making the Digital Marketplaces Fairer”.
According to a report of the meeting, the focus was not just on the current consumer experience in the online shopping marketplace, but also on protecting the legitimacy and responsibility of online marketing companies and their brands.
On consumers’ distrust of e-commerce platforms, the report showed that both parties (CPC and the executives of the E-commerce platforms) agreed that only a robust, ethical and well regulated industry can promote consumer confidence and eliminate distrust, prevent fraud and market entry by those who seek to exploit and defraud.
On the challenges of the e-commerce platforms, the report highlighted technological disruption and innovation as vital catalysts for economic expansion, commercial penetration and shared prosperity.
The guiding principles include:
1. Online marketers recognise that a dedicated customer service apparatus, which is an indispensable corollary of e-commerce, is required to ensure engagement and a complaint resolution process which is not burdensome to the customer.
2. Online market platforms recognise the importance of full, frank and complete disclosures of any terms, conditions, exceptions or restrictions on products marketed on their platforms.
3. Online marketers also recognise the need to promote consumer confidence and eliminate distrust. Advertisement of products should be truthful, transparent and factual, including current/future availability, specifications, merchantable conditions, quality and relevant warranty information.
4. Online market platforms recognise that timely delivery is a material and vital term of the contract/ agreement between platforms and their customers. As such, timely delivery including reasonable and fair return windows, prompt and efficient refunds and respect for cancellations in accordance with prevailing policy, are a matter of contractual obligations.
5. Online marketers recognise and respect the privacy of consumers and the need to protect such privacy by securing and only disclosing consumer data/personal information by operation of law or in accordance with consumer preferences.
Regarding the implementation of the principles, the Director General of CPC, Babatunde Irukera, said “before the end of the second quarter this year we will have a process in place.”
Both the CPC and the representatives of the E-Commerce platforms also agreed to commit to a broad-based engagement to further promote and develop the aforementioned principles, business guidance and regulatory framework as soon as possible.
Distrust on the part of consumers is a major factor that has affected the growth of E-commerce in Nigeria as complaints of deceptive visuals as well as delivery failures are common,
E-commerce in Nigeria is at its larval stage when compared to the state of the industry in America and Europe.
The industry has grown to an extent where it can no longer be ignored, therefore creating the need to be regulated.